Virginia has a set of topics to address going into its next game after its long Atlantic Coast Conference winning streak was halted.
The No. 14 Cavaliers visit North Carolina State looking for a bounce-back performance Wednesday night in Raleigh, N.C.
NC State has its own set of issues after winning just one game in January and losing its leading scorer for the rest of the season in the process.
Virginia (11-3, 7-1 ACC) is coming off its first defeat in more than a month, with a 10-point lead disappearing in a 65-51 loss Saturday night at Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers lacked the ability to respond to tough situations, according to their coach.
“I don’t feel we answered that,” Tony Bennett said.
So a seven-game winning streak ended. Plus, a string of 15 consecutive ACC victories dating to last season went by the wayside.
“There was a lot of missed assignments, some stuff that we needed to do better,” Virginia center Jay Huff said. “We know what we did wrong. We just need to correct a few things.”
Virginia didn’t take advantage of a Virginia Tech team that was without suspended standout Tyrece Radford. The Cavaliers will try to do better against an NC State team that lost team leading scorer Devon Daniels to a season-ending knee injury last week.
The Wolfpack (7-6, 3-5) also were without forward D.J. Funderburk because of a university policy for their 79-76 loss at Syracuse on Sunday. Even so, NC State clicked on offense for stretches of the game.
“We’ve got a lot of season to play,” said Jericole Hellems, a junior who notched a career-high 24 points against the Orange. “We’ve got a lot of things to work on and make adjustments on, like any team would do if you lose a player or have a player go down. We just had to be mentally strong on and off the court. We’ll be fine.”
Still, NC State shot 0-for-8 from 3-point range in the second half at Syracuse.
NC State coach Kevin Keatts said more tweaks will be coming.
“We’ve got to go into it and get better,” he said. “We haven’t had time really to adjust to playing without Devon.”
Wolfpack freshman Dereon Seabron figures to be on the court more in the coming games. Seabron is averaging 4.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.
“I just think everybody has the opportunity to step up and make big plays,” Seabron said. “Certainly (Daniels) was a big piece of our team, so with him gone somebody else is going to have to pick up the slack.”
Funderburk’s status is uncertain, at least publicly, with Keatts saying there is no timeline for his potential return.
For Virginia, it’s time for a reminder that a gritty nature probably suits the team better than trying to rely on skills alone.
“Finesse does not work in this league,” Bennett said. “You’ve got to figure out how to cut harder, screen harder, move harder, and you can’t expect to just be able to go where you want, and that’s where I think we needed to be more assertive in all areas (against the Hokies).”
NC State absorbed eight consecutive losses in the series with Virginia before recording a two-point road upset last season.
The Wolfpack and Cavaliers were slated to meet Jan. 20 in Charlottesville, Va., but the game was called off due to NC State’s coronavirus issues.
–Field Level Media